January 10, 2012

The Hedonist's Guide to Healthy Living: Part 2

This week, we are questioning the rationale behind more and more Americans moving to an organic, vegetarian and vegan diet.

Is organic eating worth the premium cost?

People often ask me if I "feel" better after eating organic foods. And I'm honest with them.

I say, "No, but they taste a LOT better." Because how I "feel" is dependent on a whole lot of different things. But, I can no longer eat a mealy Walmart apple. It's a struggle to drink watery plasticy skim milk. And simple grilled and salted grass-fed organic chicken is miraculous.

Of course, there's a cost premium attached to this taste enhancement.

Organic milk costs roughly double its standard alternative. Organic meats cost roughly double their standard alternative. Organic fruits cost roughly 50% more than their pesticide-laden alternatives. Is the taste difference alone worth the cost?

No. I am also betting on the novel idea that pesticides are bad for me. That grass-fed animal proteins are safer than genetically-modified corn-fed animal proteins. That organic foods have statistically higher levels of antioxidants and minerals. Less (zero) preservatives, hormones and foreign chemicals our bodies are not engineered to digest.

And I'm betting on saving a whole heap of money preventing future healthcare costs. I have personally lost weight with no other lifestyle change but a switch to organic food (no caloric intake change). And science tells me I have also lowered my future risks for cancer and heart disease.

In our single-payer healthcare system future, I may not personally be held responsible for these costs. The only benefits I may get from this organic diet are enjoying what I eat and living longer. But if we end up having to opt-in to healthcare insurance plan tiers based on our personal health, a switch to organic foods might be the best financial decision I ever make.